Podcasts & Photography, motionblur – November 2012

Author Ms sophos9 - Last updated: 28.11.2012

This month we feature a Canadian explorer and photographer. Some of you may know him for his podcast network or his photo-documentation of Hashima Island, now let’s find out more about Chris Luckhardt, also known as motionblur…..

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a Drupal web developer, podcaster and photographer. I build websites with the Drupal content management system and help to organize its annual Toronto conference and monthly meetings. I also have a start-up podcast network – essentially an online radio network – with a variety of shows about photography, technology and fitness. I’ve been a photographer for almost 10 years; a serious photographer for 6 years. I’m also passionate about urban exploration, guitars, science fiction, astronomy, and languages.


2. How did you get into urban exploration?

My interest in urban exploration is two-fold; part past and part futuristic. It harkens back to growing up on a farm north of Stratford, Ontario, Canada. I was always surrounded by old barns, sheds and rusty machinery. Since my father’s passing in 2001, I’ve become nostalgic for those environments. Secondly, I’ve always been a huge fan of dystopian, abandoned worlds in sci-fi movies. I sometimes feel like I’m inside one of those movies when I’m urban exploring!


3. What kit do you use? What would your dream kit bag contain?

I’m still using an old Canon Rebel 550D with a couple of nice lenses: a 17-55mm and 10-22mm. I suppose my dream kit is the next kit I’ll buy…so to keep it simple, I’ll just say: mirrorless.

4. Can you pick your favourite image and talk us through your set-up and processing, and why it is a favourite.

It was almost impossible to select a favourite image. So many of my images have a personal meaning to me. Let’s just say this image is my current favourite.


This star trails photo is from the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans theme park. It combines my love of star trails, urban exploration, travel and unique imagery all in one shot. It was shot on a tripod with a 10-22mm lens. It’s a combination of multiple exposures stitched together with StarStaX. I have a single exposure version of the shot too, but stacking gave the sky a clarity the single exposure didn’t have. It cut through the hazy New Orleans sky.
The physical exertion required to capture the photo is another element making it a favourite. The temperatures during the 3 days we explored Six Flags New Orleans ranged from 42ºC-44ºC with intense humidity, sweat and mosquitoes. At one point, my camera died from the heat! Luckily, it became functional after a few hours of disuse.

5. What is your favourite place/country for urban exploration?

It would be difficult to not call the United States a favourite. The country is so vast; it includes every kind of abandonment possible. I’ve visited almost every state and have found one or more interesting abandoned locations in each one. Certain areas of the United States are literally crumbling from the inside out, making it an endless resource for urban exploration.


6. What has been your most memorable explore? (funniest, scariest etc)

Hashima Island is, without a doubt, my most memorable exploration.


I travelled outside North America (for the first time since I was 6 years old) specifically to explore Hashima Island. Only a handful of urban explorers have been to the island, making the experience special and unique.


Our crew of 4 were the only explorers to ever be allowed to stay on the island for an uninterrupted 8 hours (as opposed to the typical 2 hours on 2 individual days). It was a magical experience.


7. If you could visit any location, what would it be and why?

After watching the Long Way Round (http://www.longwayround.com) documentary, I’m inspired to do some urban exploration travel around eastern Russia.

8. Are there any photographers that inspire you or you admire? Can you give your reasons why?

My primary inspiration in the past couple of years has been my good friend and photography podcast partner Ren Bostelaar (http://renbostelaar.tumblr.com). His street photography is incredible. I’m a big fan of his diminishing perspective shots and general Toronto street photography. He has the ability to capture magic in what I see as mundane scenes. The influence may be subliminal; these days I look for the absence of a photo opportunity, versus an obvious shot. I think Ren deserves credit for that new skill.
The other way Ren has influenced my work is connecting me with an incredible array of online talent that continually inspires my work. I’ve discovered photographers via Ren that have inspired me to raise my own game of storytelling through photography.
Photographers who consistently inspire me include: Ren Bostelaar, Joel Zimmer, Christina Laing, Emma Katka, Marc Lafreniere, Jeff Bierk, Nick Gerber, Lani Khong, Ikumi Nakamura and Tania Fitzpatrick.


9. How is exploring in Toronto?

Large scale exploring is almost non-existent in Toronto. Most of the abandoned buildings have been converted into condos. The best urban exploration is minimally 1-2 hours outside the city.


10. What are your next big urban exploration plans?

Can I give away that information without setting myself up for trouble?


Seriously though, I’m heading back to Japan in December. Stay tuned…


11. Tell us a little bit about the Motionblur network.

Motionblur Media (http://www.motionblurmedia.ca) is the podcast network.
Motionblur Studios (http://www.motionblurstudios.com) is the Drupal website business.

12. Who would you like to see as the next guest of the month?

Christina Laing. She’s a great friend and a brilliant photographer based in Buffalo, NY.

13. Talk Urbex forum member image for critique..


My immediate reaction to this photo is that its purpose is less about artistry and more about documentation. Even still, I would try to light the scene in a much more flattering style; I would avoid blowing out the lower portion of the scene with the flash. Doing so would evenly reveal details of the scene. Artistically, I would consider using a wide lens and/or making the chairs a point of focus. I would also be tempted to light paint the scene, highlighting the walls and letting ambient light wash over the chairs.

A huge thanks to Chris for sharing his answers with us, looking forward to seeing more images for Japan next year!
To view more of Chris’ work check out his Flickr Photostream.
If you tweet follow Chris here.
Check out Motionblur Media for all things photography and tech.


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